Throwing the Democrats a Lifeline…Again
There appears to be a differing of opinions regarding the Upton bill which may come up for a House vote on Friday. From most reports, Democrats are becoming anxious and antsy when it comes to Obamacare. Besides the debacle which is the website, the cancellations, the premium sticker shock, the ridiculous deductibles involved, and people losing their doctors- basically the opposite of everything Obama himself promised on numerous occasions- there is the political fallout. Many are correctly stating that emphasizing the website disaster is the least of the administration’s worries in this area. Broken websites can be fixed; broken laws cannot.
In one special area we hear nothing but deafening silence. Some of that silence is predicated upon the belief that Obamacare will prove to be a great success at the end of the day. However, the one area to which I allude is the one area that Democrats, Liberals, and their media allies love to denigrate and slam- the Tea Party. If any political group in America has a collective right to give Democrats, liberals and their media allies a huge “Told You So!” followed a hearty round of raspberries, it would be the Tea Party. It would appear that these folks, portrayed as Bible and gun-clinging rubes (and that is being nice), apparently had it right all along. It would appear that you cannnot reorder 17% of the American economy without creating serious hardships and a system bordering on socialism.
As regards the Upton bill, there is a problem of perception here. This bill, which has the backing of the Republican majority in the House, would allow insurance companies to reinstate those policies cancelled as a result of Obamacare. It would also allow them to sell policies that do not fully comply with the Obamacare mandates of covered items. On Thursday, Obama himself introduced an “executive fix” to correct the “you can keep your plan” promises made during the campaign to approve Obamacare and thereafter. As Obama himself stated, further fixes will require congressional approval.
Over in the Senate, wary Democrats, especially those in states won by Romney in 2012, are seriously distancing themselves from these provisions of Obamacare. It is interesting to see how supportive they were when they did not know what was in the bill and voted for it versus now knowing what is in it and its practical real-world effects. Unlike the Upton bill, their version would require insurance companies to reinstate cancelled plans.
There is some talk that once a policy is cancelled, it a logistical nightmare to simply reinstate those policies. However, it has been done in the past without much difficulty. For example, California ordered the reinstatement of cancelled policies over a technical violation of their law. In that case, Blue Cross of California cancelled over 100,000 policies, but the state ordered them to reinstate those policies because the notices went out too late. Blue Cross complied, so it can be done.
Unfortunately, what these bills do is deflect attention and blame from the area where they rightfully belong- Obama and the Democrats who voted for the law in the first place. These are the very same people who repeatedly assured that what is happening now that the more unpalatable aspects of the law are going into effect was not going to happen. Their academic, lack of real-world approach to health care reform is coming back to bite them on their arses. The entire purpose of the Senate bill being pushed by the likes of Diane Feinstein, Jeff Merkley, Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich and Mark Pryor (three of them up for reelection this year) is to deflect attention onto the insurance companies. Their proposal mandates that coverage be reinstated for those who received cancellation notices despite the hardships. The Upton bill encourages this action by insurance companies. As Eric Erickson stated this morning, it is a “paper tiger” with “no teeth.”
In essence, the Upton plan plays into the hands of the Democrats who are now clearly on the ropes with Obamacare. Talking heads like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz were on the news programs recently still touting the administration’s fall back position that even though people are losing affordable plans that they freely chose, freely like, and freely pay for, the options on the health care exchange site are much, much better. They are also much, much more expensive- a little fact she and others leave out. They also offer less and less choice of doctors, another fact left out.
The best strategy with regards to Obamacare for the Republicans was simply to do nothing. While mainstream media is declaring the GOP in utter disarray with competing factions, it will be the Democrats who will be torn apart between those running from Obama’s signature piece of legislation and those who embrace the plan and all its warts.
I’m sure Congressman Upton meant well. It gives the appearance that he or the GOP is doing something. But perpetuating the perception that Obamacare is the answer to America’s health care woes and that all one has to do is tweak it here and there is doomed to failure. Let Landrieu, Begich and Pryor take credit again for this mess like they did when they voted for it in 2009 and have endorsed it ever since. Obama has screwed up this country; let him screw up his own Party now also. The whole scheme is a house of cards destined to fall in on itself sooner rather than later. The malfunctioning website is the least of Obama’s worries.
In the interim, the policy wonks in the Republican Party should be working overtime to develop a workable health care reform package concentrating on the 89% of people who currently have health insurance to lower their costs. By lowering costs first overall, rather than trying to get the uninsured insured, it makes it more possible for the 11% to get insurance. Develop a program based upon cost-containment and choice and competition. Focus on reforming medical education and tort reform. It has been proven that the Democratic/progressive/liberal/socialist approach is a failure.
But instead, by a vote of 228-189 with no Republicans voting “NO” and eight Democrats voting “AYE,” the measure passed. A lifeline has been tossed to the Democratic Party. At least eight Republicans had the “courage” not to vote at all.